Sanderus catalogue

Old antique plan of Lake Agnano - Cumae by Braun & Hogenberg

Item number:25339
Category:Antique maps > europe > Italy - Cities
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Price: 500 Euro ($565 / £430)
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Vera deliniatio lacus Aniani, Antriq, letalis, ... - Braun & Hogenberg, 1581

Two views from east and west of Lake Agnano and the extinct city of Cumae, Italy by Braun and Hogenberg. These views are engraved after drawings by Georg Hoefnagel.


COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "On the way to Lake Averno from Cumae, an exceedingly famous and ancient city in Campania, is the Sibyl's grotto. This cave is carved into the rock in a wondrous and unique fashion. It is generally believed that this is where the Sibyl of Cumaea lived."

This is a view of Lake Averno from the east, with the entrance to the Sibyl's grotto (A: "Here is the entrance to the Grotto of the Cumaean Sibyl, known as the Grotta della Sibylla in Italian") and the temple of Apollo (B). In the middle we see Hoefnagel and Ortelius engaged in conversation. The inscription at their feet reveals they are discussing both the etymology of the place name and its ancient context; they are making an empirical examination of the classical texts: The Greek name means "birdless", it could be taken to be the entrance to Hades. Yet Hoefnagel points demonstratively to the five ducks in the middle of the lake, thus refuting claims that Lake Averno was the entrance to the Underworld in this day (information by Stephan Pelgen). Earlier commentators have suggested that Hoefnagel and Ortelius are pointing to the temple of Apollo, thus failing to appreciate the inherent humour of the illustration and its inscriptions.


TRANSLATION OF CARTOUCHE RIGHT: A true delineation of Lake Agnano and the deadly cave, which is neither spacious nor does it penetrate deeply into the mountain, but slopes gently towards the north. If any living creature enters it or is sent in, it will die at once; but if it is immediately pulled out and thrown into the aforementioned lake, it will slowly recover and come to life again. This is often tried out with dogs.

COMMENTARY BY BRAUN: "Lake Agnano is not far from the city of Pozzuoli, with a broad shore all around it. Near Pozzuoli there are blow holes, others call them the caves of Charon, which emit a deadly vapour. There is a cave deep in the rock, with a sign next to it warning people not to approach it too closely."

The second view, which is as ornately framed as the first, shows the volcanic Lake Agnano with the Grotta del Cane (Dog's Cave), so called because gases rise constantly from its floor up to a height of about 45 cm, so that a dog, upon entering it, immediately becomes unconscious. The lake was probably first formed in the Middle Ages, since it is not mentioned by the authors of classical antiquity; it was drained in 1870. To the right of the lake are the Stufe di San Germano, chambers in which the hot sulphur gases are stored for medicinal purposes. As in the plate of Pozzuoli and Baia, the instructive inscriptions make reference to the discussion between artist and scholar. (Taschen)

Date of the first edition: 1581
Date of this map: 1581

Copper engraving
Size (not including margins): 32.5 x 47.5cm (12.7 x 18.4 inches)
Verso text: Latin
Condition: Contemporary old coloured, excellent.
Condition Rating: A+
References: Van der Krogt 4, 46; Fauser, 11186; Taschen, Braun and Hogenberg, p.265.

From: Civitates Orbis Terrarum. . Liber tertius. Cologne, Gottfried von Kempen, 1581. (Van der Krogt 4, 41:1.3)

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